Joselito is described as the best jamón Ibérico de bellota in the world.
That’s quite a claim, isn’t it? The best. In the world.
Made in Salamanca, in the North West of Spain, by José Gómez Joselito, the current CEO of a family business founded by his great grandfather over a hundred years ago, Joselito ham is made from acorn-fed Iberian pigs and cured 100% naturally, in the traditional way. The pigs roam Joselito’s holm and cork oak forest pastures, feeding on grass and acorns. The nature of the breed, combined with their natural diet and the ability to exercise freely result in a wonderful marbling of intramuscular fat, which in turn results in jamon that is meltingly soft and intensely flavoured.
The world’s best chefs and food critics line up to sing it’s praises and include it in their menus:
“Joselito ham is unique, perfect. A constant inspiration to all who love the cuisine.” Ferran Adrià, chef
“Joselito ham is the world’s most wonderful and it is Joselito as a person.” Juan Mari Arzak, chef
“Joselito has perfected the curing, aging to produce the most exquisite ham.” Heston Blumenthal, chef
“The taste of Spain, the king of ham”. Testsuya Wakuda, chef
“Joselito ham is Spain’s greatest culinary treasure and one of the finest natural products of the world. Trying Joselito is a unique and unforgettable experience”. Robert Parker, writer
“Joselito ham is the finest of its kind.” Daniel Bouloud, chef
“Subtle scent that awakens our kitchen, murmurs are silenced by a unique flavour that fills the palate.” Mario and Oscar Pedro Manuel Perez, chefs
“Joselito, your name and ham are a jewel of Spanish cuisine.” Hilario Arbelaitz, chef
“A slice of Joselito Gran Reserva is like taking a walk through paradise.” Rafael Garcia Santos, food critic
“Joselito is undoubtedly the product that best presents the culinary culture of our country. The rigor, quality, professionalism and passion.” Quique da Costa, chef
“Joselito is for me the best portrait of a traditional Spanish artisan product.” Nils Henkel, chef
But, to my shame, I didn’t know any of this when I accepted a kind offer from Jamoteca to send me some Joselito samples. Their introductory email did tell me the product was the most renowned ham in Spain but, used to the hyperbole of PRs, I didn’t pay much heed to that. What came through clearly was their belief in the quality of this product and their enthusiasm for me to assess it for myself.
When the package arrived, I gazed at the beautiful fuchsia-pink of the ham, admired the creamy fat, saw how it glistened. I opened the Jamon Gran Reserva first. The aroma was wonderful, sweeter than other hams I’ve encountered. The texture was, as the oft-used cliché goes, as soft as silk and as pliable as fabric too.
One bite. That’s all it took for me to realise instantly, that this was easily the best ham I’d ever tasted in my life. I don’t have the writing skills to convey to you just how magical a combination of taste and texture this product has. Rich, intense, vivid, meltingly soft, savoury and yet sweet….
The chorizo was next, with its heady scent of smoke and paprika. Like the Jamon Gran Reserva it was simply amazing.
Only after savouring every sliver did I turn to the internet and realise what a special treat I’d been given, how renowned was the product I’d enjoyed so much, and that far better palates than mine really had deemed it the best in the world.
On other days, we enjoyed the Lomo (tenderloin) and the Paleta (shoulder) Gran Reserva and these were wonderful too.
Of course, quality such as this does not come cheap. A selection of five 100 gram packs of sliced ham, including the four I tried plus salchichón) is available from the Jamoteca website for €62 plus another €20 in delivery costs. At today’s exchange rate, that’s approximately £70. They are dispatched directly from the Guijuelo warehouse and should take 3-4 working days to arrive. If you had asked me before I’d tasted them whether I would ever spend £70 on 500 grams of ham, I’d have laughed, dismissively. Now I’ve tasted the products, I realise I actually might.
In the mean time, for those wondering what to get me for my birthday, here’s another one to add to the list!
Kavey Eats received review samples of Joselito products courtesy of Jamoteca.